Skip to main content

Brief Report: Two Day-Date Processing Methods in an Autistic Savant Calendar Calculator

Abstract

Special ability in computing the day of week for given dates was observed in a 24 year-old male (FB) diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. FB performed almost flawlessly (98.2 %) both with past and future dates, over a span of 40 years. Response latency was slower as temporal remoteness of future dates increased. Within the future timespan, FB’s performance was consistent with the active use of calendar regularities. On the contrary, within the past timespan (for which no remoteness effect was seen), his performance was mainly linked to memory retrieval of personal events. The case presented here complements the existent literature on calendar calculators, as, for first time, two distinct day-date processing styles are described in the same individual.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Barletta-Rodolfi, C., Gasparini, F., & Ghidoni, E. (2011). KIT del neuropsicologo italiano. Milano: Dynamicon Edizioni.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Capasso, R., & Miceli, G. (2001). Esame Neuropsicologico per l’Afasia. E.N.P.A. Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cowan, R., & Frith, C. (2009). Do calendrical savants use calculation to answer date questions? A functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1522), 1417–1424.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Cowan, R., O’Connor, N., & Samella, K. (2003). The skills and methods of calendrical savants. Intelligence, 31(1), 51–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Heavey, L., Pring, L., & Hermelin, B. (1999). A date to remember: The nature of memory in savant calendrical calculators. Psychological Medicine, 29(1), 145–160.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Hermelin, B., & O’Connor, N. (1986). Idiot savant calendrical calculators: Rules and regularities? Psychological Medicine, 16, 885–893.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Hill, A. L. (1975). An investigation of calendar calculating by an idiot savant. American Journal of Psychiatry, 132(5), 557–560.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Howe, M. J., & Smith, J. (1988). Calendar calculating in ‘idiots savants’: How do they do it? British Journal of Psychology, 79(3), 371–386.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Iavarone, A., Patruno, M., Galeone, F., Chieffi, S., & Carlomagno, S. (2007). Brief report: Error pattern in an autistic savant calendar calculator. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(4), 775–779.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Kennedy, D. P., & Squire, L. R. (2007). An analysis of calendar performance in two autistic calendar savants. Learning & Memory, 14(8), 533–538.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Mottron, L., Lemmens, K., Gagnon, L., & Seron, X. (2006). Non-algorithmic access to calendar information in a calendar calculator with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(2), 239–247.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Norris, D. (1990). How to build a connectionist idiot (savant). Cognition, 35(3), 277–291.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Olson, I. R., Berryhill, M. E., Drowos, D. B., Brown, L., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). A calendar savant with episodic memory impairments. Neurocase, 16(3), 208–218.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Parker, E. S., Cahill, L., & McGaugh, J. L. (2006). A case of unusual autobiographical remembering. Neurocase, 12(1), 35–49.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Snyder, A. (2009). Explaining and inducing savant skills: Privileged access to lower level, less-processed information. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1522), 1399–1405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Treffert, D. A. (1988). The idiot savant: A review of the syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145(5), 563–572.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Wallace, G. L., Happé, F., & Giedd, J. N. (2009). A case study of a multiply talented savant with an autism spectrum disorder: Neuropsychological functioning and brain morphometry. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1522), 1425–1432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Wechsler, D. (1997) WAIS-R. Scala d’Intelligenza Wechsler per Adulti—Riveduta. Italian Translation. Firenze: O.S. Organizzazioni Speciali.

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to express our gratitude to FB for his patient cooperation. Moreover we would also like to thank Gregg Rawlings for his careful revision of the manuscript.

Authors Contributions

MD performed the statistical analysis, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript. AI conceived the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed the measurement, and reviewed the manuscript. GS conceived the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed the measurement, and reviewed the manuscript. SG conceived of the study, participated in its design, coordination, and interpretation of data, drafted and reviewed the manuscript

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matteo De Marco.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

De Marco, M., Iavarone, A., Santoro, G. et al. Brief Report: Two Day-Date Processing Methods in an Autistic Savant Calendar Calculator. J Autism Dev Disord 46, 1096–1102 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2626-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Asperger
  • Autism
  • Calendrical calculation
  • Memory
  • Algorithm